Sunday, August 27, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Tick' - Tick, Arthur and Overkill Find Themselves Needing to Work Together in 'Fear of Flying'

Amazon's The Tick - Episode 1.05 "Fear of Flying"

Tick and Dot help Arthur try to control his flyaway supersuit as the Pyramid Gang pursues them. Miss Lint has an unexpected caller.

"Fear of Flying" features The Tick as more of a traditional superhero story than a reflection on personal identity and acceptance. That's perfectly fine as well. The character beats hit harder because the audience has a firm understanding of the struggle the characters have gone through so far. The choice between normalcy and heroics has been agonizing for Arthur. He's become friends with Tick. He's relied on him for support. But he's also relied on Dot to keep him sane in incredibly trying times. Both have been huge influences on him even though they are pushing different agendas. And now, the two of them are together to battle it out over Arthur's future. Dot becomes fully aware of what has been going on with her brother. She learns that his conspiracy theory is actually right. The Terror is still alive. She fully believes that now. She no longer sees her brother as a crazy individual who is seeing things that simply aren't there. She sees him as a regular guy now. But she still doesn't want him to become the hero destined to go off and fight with The Terror. She sees Tick and Overkill in action. They are the ones with the powers to stop the bad guys. Arthur is still just a hero in training. He has no idea how to control the suit or how to fight in battle. But he still sees it as a mission he can no longer run away from.

The previous episode ended with the tease of all these threats descending upon the house where Walter's party was happening. That environment had already been invaded by heroes and villains. To Walter, it was cool to hang out with Tick because it was a great birthday present to get to interact with an actual hero. He's a lifelong fan of heroes in general even though he knows nothing about Tick. It's just cool nevertheless. And then, Miss Lint crashed the party and no one recognized her except for Arthur. She forced him to do something he didn't want to do. She gave him the suit back in order to unlock it. But she did so with nefarious purposes and has the powers to hurt the people Arthur cares about most in this world. And now, both Ramses and Overkill are tracking the suit and know exactly where Arthur is at the moment. So, it seems like a ton of danger is coming for this party where innocent lives could get hit in the crossfire. But instead, everyone is able to sneak out of this event with no problems whatsoever. Arthur escaped to the sky. Miss Lint was able to walk out the front door despite her dust covered appearance. And then, Tick and Dot are just able to leave because everyone is distracted by the news on the television.

All of this allows the grand confrontation to take place in a field next to a water tower. It's basically abandoned so there's no threat of innocent lives being lost or ruined because of the battle between good and evil. But this is the most important battle of super-powered individuals happening at the moment. Superian is still completely blind to its existence. He's waiting in the sky to hear the cries of people who need his protection. But it takes something incredibly huge to happen in order to get his attention. He has no idea what's actually going on in this world. It takes a man growing out of control for him to swoop into action. Of course, the world is closely watching that confrontation. It doesn't have a simple resolution within the actual story. It's just a fun distraction that shows that there are weird peculiarities happening elsewhere in this world. But the fight with Ramses is still ultimately more important because it represents the greater threat to society because it ties into the looming return of The Terror. Ramses has been such a cryptic character so far. He hasn't had much in terms of personality or identity crisis. He's just the boss who critiques his henchmen when they are out of shape and gets annoyed when Tick can guess what he's about to say next.

But this story is also about the family dynamic between Arthur and Dot. Dot is furious at Tick for pulling her brother into this craziness. She blames him for everything that is seemingly going wrong in his life. She sees him encouraging Arthur to use the suit without the autopilot. To her, that's incredibly dangerous. She doesn't see her brother as a hero. She loves him but she needs to find a safe way out of this precarious situation for him. She sees him falling out of the sky without the autopilot and desperately needs him to be safe. She worries because she cares. She thinks Tick has filled Arthur's head with talk of destiny. She's furious about that. But it's not until the actual battle takes place that she actually realizes that there may be truth to this endeavor. Of course, the show bucks the convention of pitting its hero and antihero against each other in battle. When Arthur lands, Overkill is there to take back the suit. However, he also reveals that he's on this mission to find The Terror because he happened to read Arthur's Reddit page. That's a hilarious reveal. It shows that the two of them believe the same thing even though they are very different people. Tick doesn't know that and wants to fight the guy who is threatening his partner. But instead, the moment for a fight passes because it's more important for Dot to confront her brother. It's nice to see the two of them recognize that. In a way, it's unifying to them because they are then willing to fight alongside each other once Ramses shows up with his armed men.

However, Tick and Overkill are very different heroes. Even though he can't remember his previous life, Tick still holds himself to a strict moral code. He is the traditional hero who doesn't kill his opponents. He's a symbol for all that is good in this world. He could never be corrupted by that quest for personal vengeance. That stands in stark contrast to Overkill who is a very trained killer. He's an anti-social individual. Dangerboat celebrates when he returns to the ship with new friends. Overkill represents how conflicted and complicated heroes have gotten over the years in the genre. His actions are questionable but he is still fighting for a just cause to reveal the truth. The clashing of the two identities is compelling to see play out in a fight. Tick does not endorse anything that Overkill does even though he is an ally in this fight. He sees everything he does as a crime. It's just so complicated to Tick. To him, it's simple to fight for good and not kill anyone. It's the right way to be a hero. Overkill doesn't care about public perception of him. He's just on a mission and nothing can distract him from that. And now, Arthur wants to be a part of this partnership. Dot is begging him not to go and become collateral damage. But he's the reason the three of them are coming together. His suit provides the clues for where The Terror has been lurking and what he's planning next. So, he's important in this story regardless. It's devastating for him to have to leave Dot like this. But it's his duty to see this mission through. It's his responsibility as a hero. It's just an unlikely partnership that may forever change his relationship with the person he loves most in this world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fear of Flying" was written by Susan Hurwitz Arneson and directed by Lev Spiro.
  • It's hilarious that it's a much more arduous journey for Ramses and his henchmen in getting to the water tower than everyone else. They actually have to go off road. It's a bumpy ride for them even though they left from the same destination as Tick and Dot. For them, it was an easy journey where all they had to do was worry about Arthur landing safely.
  • It's a common trope to have artificial intelligence be incredibly smart super-computers. It buys into the idea that artificial intelligence has to be smarter than human intelligence. But here, Dangerboat is simply just Overkill's roommate who worries about what he eats but still helps him with the investigation despite getting no thanks whatsoever. Plus, his translation of the video in the suit is incredibly rough because he really doesn't understand the language either.
  • Tick doesn't like Overkill at all. He's ready to fight him. He questions his methods in battle. He sees him as a criminal who does something illegal at every single turn. And yet, Tick also thinks Overkill's ship is incredibly cool. He just wants to touch every button and play with the hologram technology. Dangerboat will probably tire of that very quickly though. He may not like Overkill's new friends.
  • Dot isn't just an innocent bystander in the grand fight either. It's nice to see she is capable of protecting herself. She is the only person on the side of good who isn't bulletproof. Yes, she gets recognized by one of the henchmen. But that only serves as more motivation to knock him out as quickly as possible. And yet, will her actions as a gang doctor ever really have consequences in this story? It seems like a story that has just disappeared.
  • Miss Lint is incredibly frustrated after losing the suit once again to Tick and Arthur. She wants to let out her frustrations on Derek who is still incredibly supportive and knows what she wants. She is still upset about nothing in the world working out for her. And then, The Terror shows up in her apartment. He has finally revealed himself to her. That will lift her spirits soon. Though she may be angry for being kept in the dark as well.
  • Tick, Arthur and Overkill have taken Ramses prisoner. He seems like the only real survivor from this fight. He has information that the trio of heroes need. He knows that The Terror is alive and planning something. How they get that information out of him will probably divide the team though because once again Tick doesn't support Overkill's methods.

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.